Getting Back into Cross Stitch

I think I was 15 the last time I did some counted cross stitch. That was more decades ago than I’d like to think about. It isn’t that I am hung up on my age. It’s just that I think I should have kept up the habit of doing this craft. Anyway, I don’t even remember what the last thing was that I cross stitched. I never kept the finished objects. I always gave them to my mom to use. I’m not exactly sure why I abandoned it. Knitting and crochet probably just distracted me. One memory that I do have is that I used to get frustrated looking for patterns at stores. There were always plenty of Biblical quotes and religious things, which often put me off. I have nothing against religious people, things, or the Bible, it’s just that neither have ever really been my preference for stitching. I think, also, I was too young to understand the history of cross stitch and therefore just too ignorant to appreciate these more traditional patterns, which were part of peoples’ educations for quite a long time in history. Cross stitching samplers with alphabets, motifs, borders, and sayings was the way a lot of children learned at school in the 19th century.

Unlike me, my mom has always been a cross stitch fanatic. I think it is her favorite thing to do even though she’s a very skilled knitter and crocheter. She loved to stitch up big wall hangings. I remember how her old-fashioned Santa Claus pictures came out, especially. She bought a book with several different ones and she made all of them.

Of course, my mom taught me how to cross stitch. It’s an easy craft to pick up, in my opinion, and a fun way to keep children busy in the summer months. She taught me because I complained about being bored with my paint-by-numbers and coloring books. Obviously, I came to view cross stitch as a form of coloring with thread. I never had my own supplies, except for a kit here or there. My mom always gave me prepared fabric and strands of floss from her huge stash.

I am lacking in stash for cross stitch, that’s for sure. At Christmas in the USA I did buy some precut DMC Aida cloth, but that has not helped curb my budget to get my first project started because one isn’t the right count (it’s 18) and the other is the wrong color (it’s 14 but plain white). I had to buy everything: floss and 14-count light-coffee-colored fabric. Shopping for a first project, although expensive, is worth the money because then I will have leftovers (fabric and floss) to be used for another, so I’m not too worried about the money.

It’s a low-cost hobby, as a matter of fact, which is just one of its benefits. Another is that you can make some really nice things to decorate the house or add embellishments to things you make or have around. A little cross stitch motif can spruce up just about anything you’re tired of looking at. It has lots of possibilities, even greeting cards. I decided to get back into it because it’s just suffocatingly hot this week and I need something else besides crocheting with cotton to keep me occupied when I have a free moment. This, above all, I think, is one of the best advantages to cross stitching: it’s comfortable all year round. It is definitely not a huge wool afghan to roast you more than necessary on an already unbearably hot afternoon.

So, I got going on my project I picked out, which is a Celtic cushion, and I’ve begun working on it. This is the first time in my life I have ever actually got myself organized to cross stitch something since my mom always gave me stuff that was ready to go. Anybody who is curious about the steps to follow before even beginning to cross stitch something can check out this captioned photo gallery:

A lot of people swear by beginning to cross stitch a project from the center of the fabric. I’m not into that. I like to follow a chart from corner to corner, from bottom to top, and stitch away at the design in ten-square blocks or so. It keeps me from getting lost. I do believe however, in the importance of finding the center of the fabric. It’s easy to do: fold the fabric in quarters and crease it, then open it up. The point where the four creases meet is the center. From here, I just counted the number of squares necessary to find the corresponding bottom-left corner on my chart and marked it with thread. All I had to do was count to 70. On some sweaters I’ve had to cast on and count to 270. Piece of cake.

Getting ready for a project that requires fewer colors, of course, is a lot faster. Also, as you acquire more threads from doing different projects the organization is less involved.

And now I’m going to get something cold to drink and cross stitch for a while as I wait and see if it gets cool enough to work on my wool sweater. If it doesn’t that’s fine. I’ve got a sock and a crochet cotton table cloth to work on.


26 thoughts on “Getting Back into Cross Stitch

  1. claire93 June 13, 2017 / 9:16 pm

    ah I didn’t know you cross stitched too ^^
    I think you’ll find things have changed from when you last stitched, dΓ©cades ago. There are so many designs out there now, and there really is something for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonymarkp June 14, 2017 / 12:26 am

      I noticed this when I saw a cross stitch magazine and flipped through it which made me think of making something. I’ve been having fun with it and I really love the pattern I’m following. I think I’ve picked something challenging to dive right in rather than easing back in with a easy pattern which means I’m all in!


  2. nothingbutknit2 June 13, 2017 / 9:18 pm

    Oh this is going to be fun to watch:) I haven’t cross stitched since the 90’s. It’s so much fun to watch a project unfold:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonymarkp June 14, 2017 / 1:38 am

      Good point! Cross stitch projects are worth photographing in various stages. It’s like that painting guy on PBS with the “happy trees.” I can’t remember his name but he’d paint a landscape and the picture would gradually evolve before your eyes.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Tami June 13, 2017 / 10:36 pm

    This is one stringy craft that is not on my horizon just yet. I follow a lot of cross stitch blogs and it is lovely so my interest is piqued. I like what you said about embellishing things with little motifs – that appeals to me. Part of the reason that I have taken up tatting and kumihimo was to have light crafts to do in the summer. It has been broiling hot here in New England and it’s nice to be able to have a little project to sit out on the deck under my umbrella. Hmmm that umbrella could use some tatted lace trim and a sturdy colorful braided rope to lash it to the deck posts. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonymarkp June 14, 2017 / 12:23 am

      Sounds like a good idea! Learning to cross stitch is a lot easier than learning to do tatting. I make kumihimo braids for lots of things. They’re handy.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. MrsCraft June 14, 2017 / 12:44 am

    I used to do a lot of cross stitch and it seems to be coming into fashion again. I like a little kit, I can’t mess that up too badly! (I always make a mistake in cross stitch, always.) Good advice from you there. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonymarkp June 14, 2017 / 1:07 am

      Thanks! Having the colors organized before starting helps prevent mistakes. But I often mess up when I’m in the middle and have to rethread the needle. Threading the needle is a distraction for me.


  5. jessicacrafts June 14, 2017 / 12:57 am

    Wowza, there’s a lot of steps in there that I’ve never done! Haha. It’s great that you’ve got back in to it. I love rediscovering an old hobby.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonymarkp June 14, 2017 / 1:08 am

      Thanks! I keep it organized otherwise I mess it up big time and/or get annoyed if I have to look for the color I need.


  6. Anita June 14, 2017 / 5:38 am

    I follow only about half the steps that you do. ☺ You must add ‘Find a pattern you like’ as step #1 – oh does that take time… (The problem is too much choice rather than too little. πŸ˜‰)
    I’d love to see how your cushion cover comes along.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonymarkp June 14, 2017 / 11:19 am

      Thank you! I will post progress reports. I think it could be fun to watch it grow.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. handmade habit June 14, 2017 / 9:07 am

    Happy to read that you’re cross-stitching. I really marvel at the craft, and you’re right about it being good for all weather. I remember also learning cross-stitch when I was younger. I remember getting very ruffled about the ‘messy back’ and not doing a second piece. I would like to try again. Looking forward to seeing this develop!

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonymarkp June 14, 2017 / 11:18 am

      Thank you! The “messy back” goes away with experience and practice.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Maia Tuitele June 15, 2017 / 5:33 am

      Or you’ll just stop caring. *laugh* About 30 years in, my official attitude has become “If I wanted you to look at the back, it would be the front.”

      Liked by 2 people

      • tonymarkp June 15, 2017 / 4:12 pm

        That is sooooooo true! The wrong side isn’t meant to be looked at!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Maia Tuitele June 15, 2017 / 8:31 pm

        Needlework has that luxury, because most of it ends up framed or mounted so the back can’t even be gotten to. I completely enjoy that luxury. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 2 people

      • handmade habit June 15, 2017 / 4:24 pm

        Haha! (that quote would make an awesome cross stitch piece!) πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • Maia Tuitele June 15, 2017 / 8:34 pm

        You know, come to think of it…. *laugh*

        My backs are usually okay, actually. Most of the messes I’ve seen come from stretching floss too far to get from one area to another rather than cutting it off and restarting. My mom taught me never to jump more than six stitches, and to run it under if possible, less for neatness than to prevent breaking when the piece is stretched for framing.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Life's Apprentice June 14, 2017 / 9:40 am

    When you’re ready to take it up a notch, check out, for accurate fine art cross stitch. They take a little longer (a lot!) but you will have some fabulous art on your wall to look at for years to come. Much better than a poster in a frame.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. brennacrocheter June 14, 2017 / 4:24 pm

    Thanks for sharing, I have never cross stitched, but I think it’s so cool. Looking forward to seeing how your pillow turns out!

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonymarkp June 14, 2017 / 10:58 pm

      Thank you! It’s a 12-inch square so I’ve got no idea when it’ll be finished. All it took to get me back into cross stitch was to find a pattern I really got excited about. I’m sure if you browse some patterns you’ll perhaps think about getting started. A good cross stitch magazine is all you need to learn how. It’s not difficult. The only challenge is avoiding the world-famous “messy wrong side” which happens when your thread twists, it doesn’t move completely from wrong side to right side, and you don’t notice and blindly start stitching over it. That’s easy to avoid: don’t make your thread too long and if you notice it twisting just raise your work up in the air and let your needle hang. It will twirl until un-twisted.

      Liked by 1 person

      • brennacrocheter June 15, 2017 / 12:40 am

        Good advice, I never would have considered the thread twisting! Ha! I gotta lot to learn. πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

      • tonymarkp June 15, 2017 / 12:47 am

        You’ve got very little to learn now! That’s all there is to it as far as special tricks. Methinks there will be some cross stitching on your blog in no time. LOL

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Kate October 4, 2017 / 3:25 am

    I’m just getting back into cross stitch too. I’ve picked up a project I started about 22 years ago, and I have a bunch of patterns and kits that I would like to do. Good luck with yours!

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonymarkp October 4, 2017 / 11:34 pm

      Thanks! I hope you stick to it better than I did. I need to get back to my cross stitch projects. I sort of left them there for a couple of months. I do feel like getting them done, though, so that’s a good sign!

      Liked by 1 person

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